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The Word F*ckboy Is Problematic, But We Should Say It Anyway


We’ve used the term “fuckboy” for years now. When you think of a fuckboy, you probably picture the frattiest guy you know, whose Instagram feed is full of mirror selfies, is always chasing girls’ skirts and is unapologetically horny. Women say it, men say it––the term is everywhere and it doesn’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon. However popular it has become, you may be subtly aware that the term is appropriated, hurtful and even inherently problematic. Despite that, we should continue to use it anyway. This is what the word fuckboy really means—and why we should still use it.

We've appropriated the word fuckboy

“Fuckboy” originated through prison slang and rap––(surprisingly) not from your college’s most immature fraternity. In prison, the word refers to men who are easy to emasculate through rape and submission, which has to do with violence and power struggles in that environment.

In popular culture it first appeared when the rapper Cam’ron release a song called “Boy, Boy” where he repeatedly tried to tear some guy down for being a fuckboy. In this case it’s synonymous with telling a man he’s a weak, bitch-ass that will never get a woman and is the literal lamest thing you’ve ever seen walking the streets. It’s the ultimate insult invented by the African American community and went on to be used regularly by other rappers like Othorized D.M. and DJ Paul. Clearly this was not our word to appropriate.

According to the holy book of millennials, Urban Dictionary, a fuckboy is a guy who “will lead girls on just for hookups, says he’s really into you but doesn't want to deal with all the ‘relationship stuff’ just to sleep with you. He thinks about himself and only himself all the time, but pretends to be really nice.” There you have it folks.

When we use “fuckboy” nowadays it has gone through language evolution and is in the context of hookup culture to call a man out for being unfaithful and disrespectful, or as a general insult towards someone with a bigoted character. The meaning has been drastically reshaped from its original definition, and has taken our media by storm. We can read about this ultimate womanizer in places like Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Cosmopolitan, Her Campus and everywhere else that has a staff of intelligent female writers.

Ariel Vaisbort, a senior at Western University agrees with this context. “I use the term fuckboy all the time and usually use it to describe men who aren't respectful,” she says. “Only a fuckboy would catcall a woman or ask her for nudes. To me, it’s just another word for disrespectful.”

The appropriation of this term isn’t ever going to be reversed because it’s so widely used (and frankly enjoyed) that it’s almost as if popular culture now owns it. While we can’t be ignorant that we’ve hijacked “fuckboy,” the new definition we’ve assigned to it does something positive no slang word has done before: it calls out misogyny, and that’s why we can’t stop using it.

Related: 11 Signs He Isn’t Worth Your Time

This is why we should say fuckboy anyway

A constant argument that you’ll see in Reddit threads and discussions across the Internet is how using fuckboy sets an unfair double standard for women who don’t want to be called “sluts.” In a comment thread for a Huffington Post article about the word “fuckboy,” one user commented, “You think it's hilarious because it insults men, yet anything that even minutely insults a female or shames them then they go on a rampage. Talk about being sexist.”

Courtney Cook, a junior at the University of Michigan, has a response for men who see fuckboy as being an unfair term. “So many men throw around the terms ‘bitches,’ ‘sluts,’ ‘whores,’ etc. but then get angry at women for using a derogatory term towards them,” she says. “The difference is that fuckboy isn’t calling men out on their sex life (like they shame us for), it’s calling them out on who they are.”

Sure calling some guy a fuckboy is mean-spirited, but unlike women, men (specifically straight white men, who get this label the most) are not systematically punished for their sexuality nor have they been historically judged and discriminated against in the same way marginalized people have. Calling a guy a “manwhore” or a “manslut” would be punishing them for sexuality, but are also terms that inherently associated with women and criticizes them for their number of partners, which we are not trying to do. Nobody should be shamed for their sexual relationships. Using fuckboy means using a term outside of sexuality. It’s an attack on the misogynistic flaws and entitlement in a person’s character. When you say fuckboy, it may sting that guy’s ego, but it’s not even close to calling a woman the c-word.

Related: Your Official Fuckboi Field Guide: How to Identify Them In The Wild

Rachel Petty, a senior at James Madison University, agrees. “I see no problem with using the word,” she says. “I feel like the people we're calling fuckboys have done something to make us refer to them as that. If they didn't want to be called a fuckboy, perhaps they shouldn't act like one.”

While it may seem like we’re using “fuckboy” as a way to get even, we aren’t. We’re acknowledging the character traits of someone who keeps disrespect towards women and gendered discrimination alive. It’s the same reason why we can’t be “sexist” to men because we don’t live in a society where both genders are treated equally. There isn’t actually a female equivalent of fuckboy for good reason, and that’s because it’s a word that recognizes and calls out unacceptable aspects of male culture.

Fuckboy was originally a term for male emasculation, but we have transformed it to call out men when they’re emasculating us. We can’t be ignorant of its original intent when we use it, and we can’t be blind to the new definition we’ve assigned it. It should always be used purposefully to call out misogyny for what it is. Use the word fuckboy––but use it appropriately to change society instead of just to bully and insult.

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